Can You Sew Your Bigotry Badge on Yourself? Or is That Too Gay?

On July 18th, Jennifer Tyrrell presented a 300,000 name petition to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) public relation director, Deron SmithZach Wahls, another activist, had already delivered a petition with 275,000 signatures to the BSA earlier this year. Wahls was unsuccessful at getting the BSA to change their stance, but maybe Tyrrell will have more luck.

It was only submitted on Wednesday, but how long should we wait? Will the BSA be receptive? Are we asking the wrong guy?

It could be that Chief Scout Executive (CSE) Robert J. Mazzuca just isn’t the guy who’s going to change anything. His term ends on August 31st and as we all know, you just don’t have the energy to try something new when you’re quitting your job. You have turnover reports to write, desks to clean out and gold watches to collect. Maybe he’s just too busy to go through 575,000 signatures. What could be keeping Mazzuca so busy you ask?

Oh, training the new guy. Wayne Brock is the incoming CSE with his term beginning on September 1st. The CSE is the top professional at the BSA, so they have to truly embody the BSA way. In addition to the awards Brock has earned already, he’ll have to acquire a few more badges during his term — patches that develop his previously acquired skills.

Although some badges have yet to be achieved by previous CSEs, it would be in Brock’s best interest to win as many of these merits as possible to fully encompass what the Boy Scouts of America truly stand for.

Combining Cycling and Public Speaking skills, this badge was earned by Mitt Romney in 1994 for his ongoing service to simultaneously advance and delay the rights of gays in the BSA.

Eighteen years ago, Romney spoke out to say that the BSA should include gays. But uh, it’s Romney?

I believe that the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country. I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.


Combining the Law and Emergency Preparedness merits, this achievement was presented to the BSA by the US Supreme Court on June 28th 2000 for the BSA’s proper implementation of the First Amendment Shield. Pew.

In 1990 James Dale was fired as assistant scout master when he was brazen enough to be flagrantly caught on camera at an LGBT conference at Rutgers, in an appearance completely unrelated to his role with the BSA (he attended as the president of its Lesbian and Gay Association). But lo and behold, here was a gay man that was also a boy scout, making him A Gay Boy Scout. He sued and New Jersey’s highest court ruled his dismissal unfair. Luckily, the Supreme Court knew better and ruled in the BSA’s favour, cementing Freedom of Speech as the be-all and end-all defense in discrimination suits.

Now that the Boy Scouts have turned their back on gay kids, there has to be some other way to pick up the slack. Let’s face it: I’m an adult. It was a defeat, but I’ll survive. I’m more concerned about the kids in the program, where we’re going as a community and where gay youth fit into that picture.
James Dale in an interview with Salon in 2000


Combining Public Health and Reading, this honour was hurled at the BSA by Susan Ungaro (and the James Beard Foundation) on April 19th 2012 for their lack of tact in bestowing honours. (Make a note Brock, you should up your reading comprehension when presenting an award to a foundation named after a gay man!!)

The BSA presented Ungaro with its Distinguished Citizen Award. At first she accepted, but when informed of the BSA’s anti-gay ways by Michelangelo Signorile and other members of the media, her stomach turned and she upchucked the award.

While I support all the poverty and hunger-fighting programs of the Boy Scouts of America, including sending at-risk youth to camp, your report brought to my attention that accepting the Distinguished Citizen Award implied I support their anti-gay policy, which I absolutely do not. When I accepted the honor, I was focused on supporting the New Jersey chefs and restaurant community.


Combining the Environmental Science and Communication merits, this accolade was achieved on May 30th 2012, with the help of Wahls. He gave the BSA the resources to convert 275,000 thoughtful signatures back into paper and pulp.

Wahls collected signatures and presented them to the BSA at their National Annual Meeting in Florida. He waited.

And waited. . .

After two months, the petition was ignored (and possibly recycled) as the BSA have reaffirmed their anti-gay stance.

While today’s meeting was productive and thoughtful, the delivery of these petitions marks the beginning of this journey, not the end. I thought our dialogue today was an honest one, and I’m looking forward to continuing the conversation in the months ahead. We leave today one step closer to religious and personal freedom than when we arrived, and it’s hard to be anything but thrilled about that.


Combining the Fish and Wildlife Management and Journalism decorations, this badge was successfully poached for the BSA by Naka Nathaniel on June 18th 2012.

In response to the BSA vs. Wahls controversy, Nathaniel plummeted from the role of Eagle Scout on MSNBC. His selfless act ensured that “Sympathetic Eagle Scout” would remain on the BSA’s endangered species list.

I really felt so disappointed that in the past 20 years, since I earned my Eagle Scout rank, that Scouting has turned back on people it should be openly embracing.


Combining the Space Exploration and American Culture merits, on June 24th 2012 this patch was sewn on by Mr. Sulu himself as he suited up for the NYC Pride Parade.

George and his 2.2 million Facebook fans are easily entertained by the right joke. Sulu proved how much the BSA amused him by showing up to the 43rd Annual NYC Pride Parade wearing their uniform instead of his Star Trek one.

Some of my best memories from my boyhood are of my scouting days. I played bass bugle in our troop’s drum and bugle corps. We marched in Fourth of July parades. We learned teamwork and brotherhood from camping together. The Boy Scouts built my character. As an adult, I was shocked and deeply disappointed to learn that the Scouts discriminate against LGBT people. This is contrary to the ideals of equality and fair play that I hold dear. The Boy Scouts must change.


Inset via Toxichominid. Combining the Rifle Shooting and Horsemanship badges, on June 26th 2012…Fuckit. 

Chuck Norris doesn’t earn Boy Scout badges. He makes them.

Combining the Camping and Safety Awards, this accolade was presented to the BSA on July 15th 2012 for aggressively keeping the closet closed and campers safe. The ceremony was cut short, as presenter Eric Jones needed to finish cleaning out his cabin to make room for a straight camp counselor.

Jones had been a Boy Scout for a decade and a camp counselor for five years. When he finally gathered the courage to come out his director asked him to leave. Jones’ legacy reminds scouts (and children and youth and people in general) that you should never speak up when you are unsure or proud.

I have to thank BSA for making the person I am, for being the person who stands up for what I believe in.


*Except in the case of Atheists and Gays. This prestigious badge encompasses the BSA’s slogan and view of Family Life and Citizenship in the World. On July 18th 2012, ex-troop leader Tyrrell tried to do a good turn on behalf of 300,000 people by presenting the BSA with her petition.

Tyrrell was the den mother for her son’s Cub Scout Troop in Bridgeport, Ohio. She led her scouts to volunteer at soup kitchens, collect canned goods for churches, bell-ring for the Salvation Army and begin conservation of a state park. She was elected treasurer and subsequently fired as she did not “meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks.” What high standard did she fail to meet? Was she putting her troops in danger by engaging in pedophilic behavior? Was she teaching them to be obscenely racist? No, even worse. She was gay. And that is not acceptable for an American family.

I loved the time I got to spend with Cruz and actually Jude, my five-year-old, got to come along because siblings are always welcome. We spent a lot of good quality family time just learning and growing, and I’ve seen the change in Cruz and I really fell in love with scouting.


This (yet) unattained award combines the lessons of Scouting Heritage and American Business.

This merit badge will be presented to the first CSE who convinces other American Youth Organizations that Bigotry is the way of the future. The Girl Scouts of America, the 4-H Club and others don’t have any explicit hateful language in their promises or law, but it’s about time they should. They have foolishly avoided media attention by accepting others regardless of “race, color, sex, religion, religious creed, ancestry or national origin, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, physical or mental disability.” Once they wisely whittle down their members, they will have no choice but to join the BSA family and share a heritage rich in discrimination and controversy.

We should all congratulate Wayne Brock on his new position and wish him good luck at the helm of this “wonderful” organization!! I’m sure he’ll do someone proud.

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Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

Kristen has written 139 articles for us.


  1. It has started to dawn on me a few days ago, but now it’s official : I have a new favorite AS writer.

  2. “She led her scouts to volunteer at soup kitchens, collect canned goods for churches, bell-ring for the Salvation Army and begin conservation of a state park.”

    Unacceptable. Absolutely unacceptable. This is a classic example of the gay agenda ruining the American family. They were right to fire her for this sort of conduct. Soup kitchens? Conservation? How dare she.

  3. Wow. That press release ( makes me so sad; I feel like I’m retroactively thrown out of my troop. My troop was a place without bullying, where boyhood wasn’t defined by athletic power or winning fights or scoring girls, but by building your skills and being helfpful-friendly-courteous-kind. OK, the “boyhood” thing didn’t really stick, but still, it still meant a lot to me. But now?

    “The BSA is a voluntary, private organization” – yes, much more private than I’d realized; it doesn’t belong to the people who participate and make it happen, it belongs to a small cabal of men in For Worth. “The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs” – that is, the beliefs of the cabal – and everybody else is out, no matter what they’ve contributed. It’s none of our business, it’s purely their business. How alienating, how cold.

  4. Learning the Girl Scouts have a DADT policy really bummed me out. Link, please? ‘Cause as a former Girl Scout I always relished the fact that they were more tolerant than their male counterparts.

    • addendum: even though my own troop wasn’t very tolerant (my mom made me drop out after the fundamentalist Christians running out troop were leading prayers despite the numerous non-Christian scouts in it).

      • This is my bad. Originally I was reading from BSA-Discrimination ( but I failed to look at the year. This was the inflammatory quote,

        “As a private organization, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. respects the values and beliefs of each of its members and does not intrude into personal matters. Therefore, there are no membership policies on sexual preference. However, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. has firm standards relating to the appropriate conduct of adult volunteers and staff. The Girl Scout organization does not condone or permit sexual displays of any sort by its members during Girl Scout activities, nor does it permit the advocacy or promotion of a personal lifestyle or sexual preference. These are private matters for girls and their families to address.”

        That was still in place in 2001, but it appears to have been has been struck since then. I am still looking for the date).

        Now I realize that address sexual orientation as a potential safety concern for their guides. (

        I will update the article ASAP.

  5. I liked the article.The badges were perfect! My former Girl Scout Troop didn’t sell cookies this spring in protest of a trans girl being allowed to participate. While I do understand the need for Women born Women Only spaces, I think they missed out on a teachable moment in tolerance. I think a lot of my scout leaders were pretty open to homosexuality, but it wasn’t discussed or anything.I don’t know that we discussed anything about sexuality though because it seems inappropriate for children, which I am hoping is the point of the DADT style policy.

    • “While I do understand the need for Women born Women Only spaces”

      What need is this? Also, trans women are “born” women.

        • Also, who the hell is thumbing L’s comments up? Ugh…just stop people! Autostraddle is not the place for your hate.

      • sex=female at birth based on biological genitalia assignment, natural producers of hormones,reproduction capable based on the ability to naturally produce eggs. There are places that are fundamentally safe for those who choose not to identify by gender identity, which is a valid although controversial theoretical concept currently identified as a mental disorder. Again I am not trying to start a trans shit storm, I am just saying that before the third wave of feminism there was a concept of sex above gender.

        • I don’t know how you can say things like this without starting a shit storm! Being a woman is about a lot more than your chromosomes or your genitalia, and a lot of women that radfems would consider “women born women” are atypical in those respects (such as women with just one X chromosome). There’s abundant proof of the fact that transgender people’s gender identities are more than just personal identification, such as brain scans that show that trans women’s brains (for example) generally have more in common with typical cis women’s brains than typical cis men’s brains, but even if that wasn’t the case, I fail to see why the presence of trans women is any threat to cis women. Certainly, as a cis woman I’m not threatened by trans women at all. “Women-born women” spaces only make sense if you think that there is something essentially less “female” about a trans woman, and that’s transphobic.

          • I’m not transphobic. It must be really hard for people who don’t identify with the gender appropriated with the sex they are assigned at birth,I respect their choice to live however they want, but the process of transitioning is at best still a choice. Just because biological sex doesn’t matter to trans people doesn’t mean I have to pretend it doesn’t exist or matter to me. Trans women are not women, they are men with severe gender identity disorder. I guess it is more like a disability so I think maybe my former Girl Scout Troop should have broached the topic that way. Girl Scouts is for Girls. It is about empowering Girls. We might not be able to include boys who play with dolls and wear dresses and call it being a girl, but we shouldn’t be mean to them because they are that way. Tolerance I wanted them to teach tolerance. I am tolerant not transphobic.

          • “Trans women are not women, they are men with severe gender identity disorder. I guess it is more like a disability”

            “we shouldn’t be mean to them because they are that way.”

            I’m just gonna put it out there that these two statements are at odds with each other.

          • “Just because biological sex doesn’t matter to trans people doesn’t mean I have to pretend it doesn’t exist or matter to me. Trans women are not women, they are men with severe gender identity disorder. I guess it is more like a disability”

            Nope, you’re transphobic. Not wanting trans people beaten up doesn’t make you not-transphobic. Just like how not wanting gay people beaten up doesn’t make you not-homophobic if you still support banning same-sex marriage and partner benefits.

          • Transphobia isn’t welcome here. Ever. Trans women are women, trans men are men, and just because you think that some people’s bodies needed a little help to get to the gender that their brain sees (and the gender that their brain is structured as, according to research!) doesn’t make that untrue.

            You are no better than a homophobe who says ‘I don’t want to beat them up, I just don’t want them to have relationships/get married/raise children!’

            Not one bit better. In fact you might be worse because you should know better.

          • I really didn’t expect quite the backlash and I apologize if what I believe offended you or hurt your feelings, but I was just saying that Girl Scouts is for girls and I don’t believe in breaking 100 years of tradition. I’m not saying trans people shouldn’t enjoy all the rights afforded everyone else and that I don’t value them as people. I am saying that there are some things that are just for women born women. I was initially just saying that GS is supposed to be a safe place so we never talked about that particular world view.

            Gender identity disorder is not the same as homosexuality, and while I know you can be both trans and gay I do not think my attraction to actual women ought to be invalidated or misconstrued as close minded. I am not homophobic, and I don’t consider myself transphobic, and I like the article because I think homosexuals not unlike myself would make great Scout leadership and would benefit young girls and boys immensely. I do not believe a person with a severe mental illness is fit to influence or indoctrinate children. I hope to God the world remains on my side about that.

          • Last note: L’s last comment (can’t reply to a thread after a certain amount of time) has eerie echoes of people who think, and have thought, that homosexuality is a severe mental illness. 40, or even less years ago, that would have been a completely valid argument against homosexuals being scout leaders.

            Hopefully in a few years, or even sooner, she’ll look back and realize how wrongheaded that was.

            In the meantime, I would caution her to remember that Autostraddle has both trans writers and trans readers, as well as lots and lots of staunch allies (hopefully most of this community is made of people who see the need to support all the letters, including the T, in LGBTQ). The tide of this world IS turning, and guess what–it’s going AWAY from being closedminded and will soon not be on your side.

            And I am outie (and dedicating this post to my friend Brock, who is particularly alarmed and offended by these postings and happens to be a transguy).

          • “I apologize if what I believe offended you or hurt your feelings”

            Note to all: If you’re beginning your “apology” this way, you’re not really apologizing.

          • Stating intolerant, transphobic opinions and then claiming to be tolerant and not transphobic just makes you look silly, and does not disguise the fact that you are a flaming bigot.

          • As a Girl Guide (international equivalent) I have zero issue with someone who is trans or genderqueer being in Guiding. It was actually a condition of mine to talk to someone high up where I am and ask what would happen if someone who was trans wanted to join and I told her my view was I would let them join, and she agreed with me.

    • “I think a lot of my scout leaders were pretty open to homosexuality, but it wasn’t discussed or anything.I don’t know that we discussed anything about sexuality though because it seems inappropriate for children, which I am hoping is the point of the DADT style policy.”

      Talking about same-sex relationships =/= talking about sex. Kids with straight, married parents know their parents are married. You can take a five-year-old to a wedding without discussing sexuality. Why is it appropriate to say “Mr. and Mrs. Smith are married and have 2 kids” but it’s ZOMG Talking to Children About Sex!!!11!1! to say “Ms. and Ms. Smith-Jones are married and have 2 kids”?

      • I love telling people who cannot understand how one can talk about the gays without talking about sex how my mom explained it to me.

        Paraphrasing, but basically: “Sometimes, instead of dating girls, boys want to date other boys. And sometimes, instead of boys, girls want to date other girls. And some people will tell you there is something wrong with that, but those people are the ones who are wrong.”

        No mention of sex. None. Because little kids know what romance is, and being gay or bi doesn’t mean there’s any less of that, or any more of the sex, than there is in a straight relationship.

  6. Those badges are amazing, so much more awesome than any of the badges I (halfheartedly) earned

  7. I clicked on one of the links and learned that Motorboating is actually a badge one can earn.

    Excellent article with wonderful illustrations!

  8. Can we talk about how much we need these badges at A-Camp? Can we talk about that?!?

    • Hah. Well I how you don’t earn a badge in Camp De-Gaying! I could be convinced to work on some A-Scout patches…

  9. As one person commented on Ammoland’s site:
    “Also, people in tight, denim houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
    It makes me hopeful that so many of the comments were far from favoring Norris’ stance. Yeah gun aficionados!

  10. I just happened to see Penn and Tellers Bullshit episode about the BSA last night on youtube.

    So things people don’t bring up, are that the BSA gets a huge chunk of their funding from The Mormon Church, and they also get money or deals from the US government. Yet somehow they are considered “private”. Millions of tax payer dollars at work!

    Full episode

    • Hah. Seriously, the “coin collecting” badge? So tempting! But I didn’t have enough time to draw and do the research.

    • Now I’m a transphobic troll? I love how when you have a difference of opinion and you are a woman you can always depend on advocates of trans issues to resort to amazingly misogynist methods of crushing dissent. I’m a troll? That is either some slight at my appearance (sexist)or simply a comment on my willingness to engage in this conversation which is hypocritical because I have not tried to silence, offend, or directly insult anyone this entire time. However I have been called homophobic, transphobic, and an unattractive mystical creature that guards bridges or a neutered child’s toy with colorful hair and jeweled belly button. I have read the comment policy, I read a lot of content on the website and so long as I am contributing to a discussion even the policies say I’m welcome here. This place is for all of us. I disagree that the voices of LGB should be less important to appease the T.

      I apologize to the community for what this conversation became and if it detracted from the original intent of the author.

      • “I disagree that the voices of LGB should be less important to appease the T.”

        I fail to see how telling you to stop being mean to the T is somehow hurting the LGB here. That’s like when homophobic people act like you’re hurting straight people by demanding gay equality.

        Also how is calling someone a troll misogynist? Last I checked, the Internet definition of “troll” is fairly gender-neutral. I’ve probably called more dudes trolls than ladies.

      • A troll in internet parlance has nothing to do with mythical creatures and actually refers to one who makes a habit “trolling” or fishing for an argument.

        You have come to a LGBT supportive site and started making inflammatory and bigoted statements. It is reasonable to assume that you did this to anger the population of this site and draw attention to yourself.

        If you didn’t mean to do this, then you should have stopped making statements that are obviously unwelcome in this community.

        Since you continued to dig yourself deeper and make even more bigoted statements, you must either be a troll, or incredibly lacking in social intelligence.

  11. And another thing.

    There are parents of scouts who say that being gay is wrong. That’s OK. (I know it’s annoying, work with me here.) There’s still a cultural controversy around gay people, no doubt about it.

    The problem is how BSA headquarters is teaching scouts to react to a cultural controversy. If they wanted Scouting to teach good morals and citizenship, it would seize the opportunity to teach Scouts about cooperating respectfully in society with people even in the context of cultural controversy – that even if there’s something about somebody that you or your family or your church disapproves of, good citizens still can – and must – work together courteously. Shunning and silencing those you disagree with is bad citizenship and bad morality, nothing to demonstrate to kids.

    And really, that’s an even more important lesson. Fifty years ago, it’ll seem just charmingly quaint that people used to argue about whether it was OK to be gay. By then, they’ll have moved on to arguments between people who do and don’t want iPhones wired directly to their brain stems, or whether it’s right to splice cat DNA into your genome so that you can sleep comfortably even in ridiculous positions, or whatever. But people are still going to need to understand that good citizenship means living your beliefs while being able to respect and cooperate with people who disagree.

    So in addition to being wrong on the issue of the moment, BSA headquarters is totally missing the boat on the enduring lesson.

    • Er, I meant fifty years in the future, not fifty years ago. I don’t progress through time backwards, honest.

    • Yeah, I have to say I’ve found it pretty odd that the BSA is acting like they are somehow allowing people to have a “diversity of opinions” on this. No, they’re not. If you’re gay or bi, you’re not allowed in the troop. End of story.

      Allowing a diversity of opinions would be allowing gay and bi people to join, as it’s not like that would prevent people from teaching their kids to be homophobic, but it would also allow LGBTs to be out and proud and allow pro-LGBT straight people to have the sort of welcoming environment they want for their kids.

      • Apparently they mean that gay-accepting straight people are still allowed to participate. Which means that they’re cordially invited them *not* to follow their convictions and take their contributions to a more inclusive organization. Giving their opponents permission not to protest, then painting that as an open-minded concession! Need another merit badge, this one for “Disingeneousness”.

  12. Being a gay atheist woman who was the first woman in her scout troop here in Australia (more than 10 years ago!) makes scouts seem so much cooler. Sorry to hear our American brethren haven’t caught up with, well, reality yet!

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